State Contract Extension Improves Broadband Service

BadgerNet offers faster speeds and new services for use by government, education

Madison, Wisconsin, November 04, 2011

Faster speeds, lower rates and new services will be available to users of the BadgerNet Converged Network, the state’s broadband network, under a five-year extension of the current agreement between the State of Wisconsin and AT&T and local telephone companies.

"This agreement will meet the growing broadband needs of education, libraries and government," said Scott T. VanderSanden, President of AT&T Wisconsin. "The state’s customers will get much higher speeds for less money. School districts and libraries, in particular, will be able to apply to the state for faster data and video connections."

BadgerNet is one of the largest state networks of its type in the nation, serving more than 2,100 public sector institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, public libraries, universities, technical colleges, state agencies and local governments. BadgerNet provides secure transmission of data and guaranteed availability of high bandwidth anywhere in the state. The State Department of Administration (DOA) contracts with AT&T and local telephone companies across Wisconsin to make service available everywhere in the state. BadgerNet is also a major customer for local telephone companies, generating investments in broadband infrastructure vital to local economic development.

"The continuation of this critical statewide network would not be possible without the support of DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch and his dedicated staff," VanderSanden said. "We look forward to continuing our work with the state to provide the benefits of advanced telecommunications throughout Wisconsin."

School districts and libraries can participate in BadgerNet under the state’s TEACH program, which provides high-speed broadband access at low rates, no matter how rural or urban their location. BadgerNet and TEACH have made broadband affordable for schools and libraries in every county of the state.

"BadgerNet has been incredibly successful in making affordable telecommunications services, like interactive distance education, available throughout Wisconsin," VanderSanden said. "Distance education saves money and makes educational opportunities – from foreign languages and advanced math to museum visits or live open-heart surgeries – available where they would not otherwise be possible."

Under the state’s new contract, schools will be able to engage in distance education in high definition, but still communicate with places not yet ready to upgrade their equipment to HD. Distance education sessions will also be able to be recorded for future use.

BadgerNet benefits more than just its direct users. When BadgerNet provides broadband service to schools, libraries and governments, the local telephone companies build infrastructure to meet that demand. That infrastructure is typically built to meet more than just the needs of BadgerNet customers. It improves the services available to residents and businesses in the community in rural areas.

"One of the primary goals of BadgerNet has been to take advanced telecommunications infrastructure and services statewide, with the state as the anchor tenant. Once that infrastructure is there, everyone benefits," VanderSanden said. "Local investment in broadband infrastructure is vital to economic development."

BadgerNet can also accommodate statewide electronic health care initiatives to improve the quality and reduce the cost of health care, as the Legislature recently added hospitals to the eligible users of BadgerNet. The state network allows users to easily accept shared applications that can lower costs, improve productivity and increase services. Governments can also create regional networks, such as public safety networks, to improve efficiency and save tax dollars. Among the services BadgerNet offers is low-cost high definition video conferencing, allowing governments and schools to reduce travel expenses and improve productivity.